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Iraq: Coalition Against ISIL

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 11:59 am on 26th September 2014.

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Photo of Hazel Blears Hazel Blears Labour, Salford and Eccles 11:59 am, 26th September 2014

I am delighted to place on record my appreciation for that organisation and my hon. Friend’s commitment.

We have debated the Prevent strategy many times in this Chamber. In his statement on 1 September, I was delighted that the Prime Minister said:

“We should be clear about the root cause of this threat: a poisonous ideology of Islamist extremism…a warped world view…And we should be clear that this has nothing to do with Islam”.—[Hansard, 1 September 2014; Vol. 585, c. 24.]

I am grateful for that and for the many statements that religious people in this country, including imams, have made in response to atrocities. We are now beginning to move from condemnation to a proper narrative about the fact that such atrocities are not justified by the religion, but we have a long way to go. I urge the Prime Minister to be more courageous and to say that we need to support credible scholars to develop a view of Islam in a modern day, 21st-century democracy, where Muslims are in a minority, that is more relevant to everyday life and that will protect and build the resilience of young people. That is difficult work and we will be accused of trying to tell people what to believe in their religion, which is not the place of a Government in a democracy, but the work is urgent and needs to be done.

I ask the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary to come back to this House with a proper plan for how we are going to conduct the counter-narrative to the ideology. The Home Office has the research, information and communications unit, but it is small and is not doing the kind of effective work it could do. It needs to be bolstered and to take in the best ideas from all of our partners around the world in order to build a narrative, and that must be done in a practical way so that we can show people that this is not the future for our country.